I started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2008 and was matched with more than a dozen Little Brothers through the program. I later served as an AmeriCorps member with the organization and had the opportunity to match Littles with their Bigs. Through these experiences, I came across countless kids that mentioned off-hand that they wanted to participate in an extracurricular activity like football or karate, but their parent/guardian couldn’t afford it.
Flash forward to 2014 when I received a call one day from my Little Brother’s grandma. The time had come to sign up for youth football, but there was one obstacle standing in the way — the $135 registration fee. She asked if I knew anywhere in town that gave scholarships for that amount. I knew there were a few places in town to get smaller scholarships, but not close to $135.
I promised her that I would find a way. That night I set up a quick online fundraiser asking friends to donate whatever they could to help my Little Brother register for football. With the help of six generous donors, I reached my goal in less than 24 hours. I had several friends and family members that wanted to contribute, but didn’t get the chance to before I reached my goal. Surely there were other kids out there that needed help with the registration fees associated with extra curricular activities. The Day Dreams Foundation was born shortly thereafter.
Our original board of directors consisting of Joe Bradley, Ellen Huch (Bradley), Elly Lang, Malloy Lang, Justin Light, Victor Tran, and Marcus Williams first met on September 25, 2014 and the Day Dreams Foundation was incorporated by the State of Missouri on September 29, 2014. Our 501(c)3 status was approved by the IRS on November 20, 2014.
After spending several months raising funds and solidifying paperwork, we awarded our first scholarship in March 2015. We moved into our first office space at 200 E. Walnut St. in May 2016. In February 2020, we hired our first employee, Tricia Koedel, to coordinate our scholarship program. She was promoted to become Day Dreams’ first Executive Director in June 2021. In August 2022, we awarded a scholarship to the 500th child in our program. We moved to our current office at One Broadway in November 2022.
Thank you so much to everyone who has encouraged us from the beginning, especially Nancy Howard who helped us navigate our way through all the paperwork. And thank you to Catherine Rhodes Photography for donating their amazing talent and taking the photos of our Day Dreams kids that you see on the website!
– Joe Bradley, Day Dreams Foundation Founder, Former President, and Lifetime Board Member